Things you should know about Chinese New Year

The 16th February 2018 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, a celebration marked by parades, family gatherings, and lots of delicious food across Asia. But what is Chinese New Year all about?

This festival has many longstanding traditions and runs for 15 days, so there is a lot to learn if you aren't familiar with the celebration but the 9 points below should get you started.

1.       What does Gong Xi Fa Cai mean?

Spoken in either Cantonese or Mandarin, these are Chinese characters that mean “congratulations and wishing you prosperity!” In the Chinese culture, it is one of the most common ways of saying Happy New Year.

2.       The Significance Behind the Year of the Dog.

In Chinese astrology, each year is related to a Chinese zodiac animal according to the 12-year cycle. 2018 is an Earth Dog Year.

Years of the Dog include 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, and 2030... The Dog occupies the eleventh position in the Chinese zodiac, after the Rooster, and before the Pig.  If you're born in a Dog year the following are deemed lucky for you:

  • Lucky numbers: 3, 4, 9
  • Lucky colours: red, green, and purple
  • Lucky flowers: rose, cymbidium orchids

3.       Sweep away the bad luck

Homes are thoroughly cleaned prior to the start of the New Year to sweep away back luck and make way for good fortune. As well, cleaning materials should be put away and all garbage must also be thrown out.

4.       The colour red

Red in general is an important colour in the Chinese culture, it’s not just for the Chinese New Year.

It is linked to luck, happiness and prosperity, but it is also used to fend off misfortune and explains why red is the colour of virtually all Chinese New Year decorations and clothing worn during the holiday. Even underwear.

5.       Firecrackers and fireworks

Firecrackers and fireworks aren’t just used to celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year. They are also used to scare away the half-lion, half-dragon monster “Nian” who comes out of slumber to attack children, devour livestock and eat crops throughout the Chinese New Year period.

6.       Why is red pocket money exchanged?

Instead of gifts, Chinese and certain Asian societies exchange luck money during weddings and holidays especially like Chinese New Year. The luck money is traditionally contained inside red pocket envelopes decorated with symbols and characters of luck and wealth.

Depending on the closeness of the relationship between the giver and the receiver, luck money can be in the form of coins, cash or even a hefty cheque with sums amounting to digits of 8.

7.       Feasting on Food

It goes without saying that food is a very major aspect of Chinese New Year celebrations and family gatherings. And yes, even certain foods are associated with luck and fortune: stick to eating dumplings, vegetables, meat, fish, and oranges for a prosperous 2018.